Seven somethings in a trench coat, probably (story hour)

I was journaling about FEELINGS and had the realization that they are all jumbled for me right now:

I think I can’t even differentiate anymore between pandemic depression vs regular depression vs breakup depression vs loneliness depression vs impending summer heat depression vs hopelessness re vaccine depression vs hopelessness re the govt wants us all to die depression SHRUG EMOJI!!!!

And I texted my friend about this, and she said, oh yes, the old seven depressions in a trench coat trick.

This made me laugh, so that’s how I’ve been referring to it and imagining it. Seven depression raccoons standing on top of each other’s furry raccoon shoulders, doing their best impersonation of a person, possibly wearing a top hat or something equally absurd.

And of course, I’m not depressed, which I know, with certainty, because the second I have the opportunity to converse with a human I like, I immediately feel better. And in my experience of depression, it’s not a thing we can generally snap out of the way I snap out of it these days when I get to talk to someone.

So it’s not that I’m depressed so much as that my opportunities to do the depression-ending thing (interact! with a person!) are so limited, due to circumstances, and when I don’t human contact, aka most of the time, the seven raccoons keep me busy with their raccoon shenanigans.

So I’m trying to remember this image, nothing is real, it’s just a gaggle of creative raccoons in a not-even-very-good disguise, and I can laugh about it, which also makes them laugh, and then they topple into a pile, giggling madly at their own ingenuity.

May we all giggle a little at our ingenuity when we can. Survival survival survival. Let’s do this.

Weekend Check-in, we made it.

Reviewing the week aka Chicken/Check-in is not only a reassuring ritual and fun to say, but another form of remembering, turning inward with attentiveness.

We can name what was difficult and name what worked, I find naming therapeutic. What am I experiencing and how am I experiencing it? All intel is useful.

Mainly we’re here to take a breath for having made it here. High fives all around and hand-to-heart appreciation.

If I neglect to name something big in the world, could be ADHD but also I’m keeping myself on this extended news break after spiraling hard.

Breathing for what was hard, challenging, uncomfortable, not fun…

These are in no particular order this week because they all feel weighted equally to me right now, for sure some are harder than others but I am perceiving them all as last straw material.

Got pulled over for expired plates (a problem I can’t solve anyway because of the pandemic), and while I conveniently and fortunately had a mask in my pocket, the police office who stopped me was not masked. IN A PANDEMIC, in a state full of dying people, did I mention that part. So if I die, please seek out Officer Reynolds in Tucson and at the very least make sure the world knows that all blame rests on him.

That is one very small example of the disconnect between my perception of reality and my wish to be protected and cherished, for my life to be valued by others as much (or ideally more) as I value it, versus the way everyone else is acting (like lives are expendable, and whatever, no big deal), this perception mismatch is so dissonant and overwhelming that I don’t know how to cope. None of this is new, it just feels intensified.

Another example: got a phone message from a friend saying he’s out of the country (?!) and flying into Phoenix (?!) tomorrow and do I want to have lunch in Tucson this week (?!?!?!) and, where is the part about keeping me safe, where is the part where I am protected and cherished, where is the part where keeping me alive is a priority?

Another example: a man touched my shoulder to get my attention and tell me his opinions about me, which I do not want, none of that please. But again, even not in a pandemic this is wildly inappropriate behavior, but this is life and death stuff, people. CAN WE FOCUS. On life.

Meanwhile, the selfish governor of Arizona who was first in line for the vaccine has decided that the rest of us can die, and has made mask mandates illegal. That is to say, individual businesses can decide for themselves but cities can no longer make masks a requirement. There are no vaccine appointments available. This is going to be so much uglier than it needed to be. It’s just cartoon-villain levels of cruelty.

I trust no one, and I am constantly bewildered to discover how many people I think of or thought of as friends seemingly are not particularly concerned with life, with my life, with sustaining life at all, to the extent that we can.

And sure, obviously most of [staying alive] is some unknowable combination of luck & magic, generally out of our hands. We don’t control much, and probably less than we think. But I’m pretty sure we could also not fly on planes if it’s not an emergency and we could definitely not go out to lunch. Like, come on, the finish line is in sight, let’s just make it to the next whatever-is-next if we can.

Similarly, my mysterious and confusing fight with the person I used to smile at (from behind a mask, so it’s not even like we could see each other smiling at each other, it was just feeling the smile, and that was both too little and more than enough, awful and sweet, and I miss it, all of it) is unresolved and I don’t see a way out, which is ridiculous but also it is just neutral information that I happen to not like. For whatever reason, this is unresolvable. I hate that, and it also just is.

I did what I could, until I ran out of olive branches to extend, and then I waited for my supply to be replenished, with the knowledge that maybe it won’t be, but at this point I kind of don’t care anymore.

Yeah okay, that’s not true, obviously, I care a lot, but it goes back to the question of what helps me perceive that I am protected and cherished in a relationship, that my safety is paramount. Not this.

I miss live music so much, and maybe that’s a proxy

Does that make sense? I miss live music but missing live music is also a way to be sad about something indirect, something that is not the current sadnesses.

I am awake a lot in the middle of the night. I had a dream and in the dream someone stole all my rings, her name was Lily, I confronted her, and she gave them back angrily but before that happened there was a part that was very threatening, she had the choice to harm me or not, and it took her a while to make up her mind.

I am tired of explaining to people in my life why my safety matters to me, and tired of explaining why no one gets to be Switzerland on the topic of pandemic safety. This is about keeping people alive, and we can argue the small details but we can’t argue the big point anymore.

The iconic Miranda Priestly line from The Devil Wears Prada — “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” —- feels very relevant to everything. Everything coming my way feels uninspired, and I wish I could explain to the world that it’s okay to take a season off.

It’s the first night of Passover tonight, and it is a lonely meditation on collective liberation.

Someone else wanted to lecture me this week on what is “unhealthy”, and yet again, it is something entirely out of my grasp to change, and yet again, the person doing the unsolicited lecturing is not the expert on what is healthy in general, never mind healthy for me. I am bored. Devote yourself to cherishing & protecting me or gtfo. Trying to live by this myself, and that’s a whole thing too, isn’t it.

Breathing for what was good, reassuring, joyful, sweet

I feel incredibly fortunate to be in good health right now, a breath for this amazing good fortune.

Talked my way out of an expensive ticket, using every ounce of privilege I possess. A breath for that.

More friends getting vaccinated, I feel hopeful and relieved at each shred of good news, may we all be vaccinated speedily and in the best possible circumstances.

The slow motion montage is what it is, but I am no longer in the slog of it. I don’t know that I’m in the fun, uplifting part, but I am just doing the things: taking my vitamins, doing my sun salutations, making sure there is nourishing food for me, keeping phone off, heading to bed early.

Listening to lots of music. Especially concerts, to remember what it is like to sing with other voices. My two favorites right now are this surprisingly cheery love song (in Arabic), and the sweetest and saddest sad-sweet song (in Hebrew), I couldn’t find a video for the version of the concert I’m thinking of, but the point is, I spend a lot of time thinking about the people who were lucky enough to be at these shows, singing their hearts out, in the intensity of the shared moment, knowing what a special moment it was, but not knowing that world would stop.

Have also been listening to Melissa Carper who is basically the queer modern patsy cline I didn’t know I needed? I love her voice and her humor.

Last week I told you that I bought The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty, I’ve read about sixty pages which is a huge win for me after a year of not having the focus for reading, and it is so beautifully written.

I am finding moments of focus, laughter, joy, pleasure, sometimes in very small ways but they all count, I am wrapping myself up in love, I am practicing, playing, experimenting, taking notes, trying again, living the practice, being the person who knows how to protect and cherish myself at all times, I am wishing my wishes and lighting my candles, and keeping tenderness for myself, holding myself close-close.

And I am reminding myself that so much of this big sadness is not mine, it belongs to the collective, to the swirl, the full moon big feelings, to the past, to the body-memories. I don’t have to carry it all. I only have to be with the part that is mine and right-now.

Still welcoming solutions that hold me in High Regard, inviting in new and better, in all forms.

I’m sure there is more good in my life than what I am able to remember in the moment, but I’m just trying to keep my focus on what’s working, seeding the seeds, trusting in what I cannot yet see.

Thank you again so much to everyone who sent me surprise Appreciation Money this week via Barrington’s Discretionary, it is always welcome and received with love, and if I can land in a place, which is the wish-goal of wish-goals, I can share more writing here, that’s my preferred way to fill time; writing and hopeful thoughts.

Play with me in the comments! You know the drill…

I love company! You can always use a made-up name in the comments whether in service of safety or playfulness.

We are all going through what we are going through. So we make this a sanctuary by not care-taking or problem—solving for other people, we can leave each other warmth or hearts of love or pebbles of witnessing. I still have not figured out how to get emoji to work in the comments, sorry!!

How are we holding up? Anything hard and/or good in your week that you want to name here? Sometimes naming helps. I have found for me that taking breaths while I name things helps a lot.

And if that’s not your thing, you can say hi or name something you’d like more of for the coming week.

Love ya,

The Fluent Self